tv To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe PBS October 13, 2012 11:30am-12:00pm PDT
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p. >> first, mitt romney's surge with women voters. then tragedy mars the first u.n. international day of the girl child. behind the headlines, wage theft, a little known problem that costs mainly women workers millions of dollars. hello, i'm bonnie erbe. welcome to "to the contrary," a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first, pushing for women. will a more moderate mitt appeal to women voters? that is what the gop presidential hopeful is counting on as he moves more towards the middle on women's rights. romney generated buzz this week over remarks he made about
abortion, saying access to abortion is not on his legislative agenda. regardless, he added he would defund planned parenthood and prevent use of federal funds for abortions. he continues to call himself a "pro-life candidate." meanwhile, romney shows growing support among women in the latest polls, following his strong debate performance, almost closing the gender gap. so congresswoman norton, will a more moderate mitt appeal to women voters? >> bonnie, not unless women develop political amnesia and forget the mitt of the tea party republican debates. >> as long as mitt romney is unequivocal about his economic plan and makes a clear contrast between obama's failed policies and how they have hurt women and children, his plan will be that will help women and families, i
think heal continue on this can be he'll continue on this up with yard trend with women. >women. >> he shouldn't be allowed on get away with this twice. he did this in the run-off to the governor of massachusetts. he moved strongly to the middle and women were convinced it was true, and then he went back to being the right wing mitt and now that's trying to convince us that he's really a moderate after all. i don't think women will be fooled twice. >> it's interesting that this shift is coming off the first presidential debate when women and all americans got to hear for themselves unfiltered what the different plans for getting america back on track are. and as more americans describe themselves as pro-life, they're looking for policies that don't allow taxpayer dollars to flow to abortion, particularly at this moment of budgetary crisis for our country. >> but in that first debate there was no discussion of women's issues, and in this one coming up you can bet your bottom dollar the president is going to put it on the line and women are going to do exactly what they did before.
believe me, it wasn't the economy that got that huge surge, sometimes 20 and 30 points. it was the economy, to be sure, plus women's issues. >> so don't you think your analysis defies the ideas of women's issues if women were responding to a discussion that didn't include what you're calling women's issues? women are looking at a whole slate of issues and are concerned -- >> the candidates didn't bring it up, and because the candidates didn't bring it up, a lot of women who had never been paying attention the to donates didn't even know about his position. >> i hope that actually romney has an opportunity to clarify what his visions actually are, like you said 1 unfiltered because ther this war on women fartive has hurt him up until now and he needs to be clear about this. >> can anybody be clear about it if he's not clear about it or if he keeps training it? it's one of those john kerry i was before it and now i'm against it. >> that's his challenge. i mean, mitt romney has to
overcome his reputation as being a flip-flopper. that is was one of the criticisms before. >> but truly how do women, and i don't care if you're pro-life or pro-choice, how do women know which mitt had to believe? >> the quote in the same breath he said that he wanted to restore the mexico city policy that taxpayer funds wouldn't to go abortion abroad. >> but they don't go. >> isle i'm telling you what the quote said, clarify what the quote said. this is taking one sentence out of context to me. >> he's been very clear over quite a lg period of time that he would de fund planned parenthood. he has been unequivocal on that subject. he's also been asked to the supreme court justices were that he identified with and the kind that he would appoint, and it's justice scalia, one more scalia would result in a reversal of row v. wade, robert bjork heads
his judicial collection selection fo for the campaign. robert bjork we know wrote the roadmap for how to overturn roe versus wade. he is sending maybet's dog whistles but people getting the message. >> during this week vice-presidential debate the candidates were asked about their views on abortion. >> i do not believe that -- that we have a right to tell other people that, women that they can't control their body. it's a decision between them and their doctor. doctor, in my view, and the supreme court. i'm not going to interfere with that. >> i understand this is a difficult issue, and i respect people who don't agree with me on this, but the policy of a romney admistrion will b to oppose abortion with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. >> congres congresswoman nortono you -- the election is now a month away. is there anything that the candidates can do at this point to change minds? >> oh, yeah.
that's why i made the point that women's issues weren't discussed at all, which says to me that women didn't know about these differences, and there you had it. he was saying it plain for women to hear, that he was against abortion, and look what was good about what biden said. biden had the same personal view about abortion that ryan had, but he said he did not believe he could impose his own personal, that is to say, catholic views, on those of us who have other religious or conscientious views. who wants to hear that or precisely the swing vote. >> let's be clear, though, about life. life is mentioned in the declaration as independence as the first line and those are declared to be self-evident truths. that's accessible to everyone. it's not a matter of religious perspective. this is the idea that that's our first freedom as an american. >> but this is about abortion.
>> i really don't want to get this discussion to go towards a debate of. >whether abortion is a good thing or a bad thing. what i really want to find out is, and from you, too, what do you think caused that huge swing, unprecedented really, among women voters who are pretty much 20 points for obama, after the debate split? why? >> i think it's that unfiltered aspect, that the media was been setting a margined and labeling things in a certain way, prepackaging it for americans, for women and be finally, americans, women got to hear for themselves unfiltered about these two ways forward. >> do you think that's the case? >> i actually don't think had that's the case at all. i think it's really a, and a if you will go back and look at the news stories, i think you will find it's a misinterpretation of the gender gap as it is anything else. the actual definition of the gender gap is not this percentage of women voting for this candidate and this other percentage of women voting for
this other candidate. the gender gap is the difference between women's votes for a candidate and men's votes for that candidate, and there has been a very significant gender gap, and there will be in the election a very, very significant gender gap. >> that is for the republican party with men. >> exactly. and i think that that will continue as well. >well. and just because women split between particularandidates in a few polls buns change the fact that even in those very polls there would have been a gender gap wer if you were looking at n versus women. >> so i think it's a misnomer what is the demographic within women. romney wince overwhelminingly wh married white women. obama wins overwhelmingly with single younger women. >> and women of color. >> right, and minority women. so where he's going to make up the difference. there was obviously a shift in
polling. i think it was because of, partially because of obama's very weak performance. he was -- for people who thought he was this great messiah who was going to fight for them and he's right, they didn't see that, and mitt romney gave an opportunity, it gave mitt romney an opportunity to for people to actually listen to what romney has to offer, and i think that people said to themselves, oh, okay. he has a they had an opportunito hear that, particularly women, and that's partially why i think those polls shifted. romney needs to stay consistent with that message between now and the election and not get caught up in some of the other red herring herrings of you sais before political web social issues can get him into trouble because he's been all over the place, the message is a little off. >> he's gone from being a flip-flopper to too clever and women see through that. >> let us know what you think. please follow mow on twitter at bonnie erbe or at to the con "te contrary." from presidential politics to the day of the girl child.
, 14 year old pakistani girl malala yousoufzi fights for her life. she was shot in the head and neck by the taliban, that for going to school and promoting education for girls. she is a poignant example of why the united nations is focusing on abuses against girls worldwide. 14. >> she was attacked and shot by extremists who don't want girls to have an education and don't want girls to speak for themselves and don't want girls to become leaders who are, for a variety have right of reasons, threatened by that kind of employment. empowerment. >> as part of the first international day of the girl child, world leaders said education is the way to end child marriage. every year ten million girls are removed from school and forced into marriage, according to the u.n. population fund. early marriage deprives young
girls of education. it threatens their health and traps them in poverty. west africa has the highest incidence of child marriage but the practice is wide spread across sub-saharan africa, and in bangladesh, india, nepal and pakistan. >> so kim gandhy, let's start with the child bride issue. is this something that the u.n. and the united states can get a handle on? because it's so widespread, it's so cultural in its orientation. the west ha is always criticized for trying to mess with culture in the east, middle east and africa and elsewhere. what do you think? >> well, i think there have been some very famous and knowledgeable people over the years who said that you can look at a country's advancement and decide really whether they're an advancing country or not based on how they treat women and girls. and if indeed we want these
countries to be our partners in the world, if we want them to advance and be -- and if they want to advance and be on the world stage with other countries, they have to change the way that they treat women and girls and it was to start with girls. >> why do i have less hope about that? >i mean, the taliban, in the case of malala they arrested three people, not the guy hoe apparently led so far, but i mean, you know, they still can get away with this stuff. >> right, and that's what i was about to say. as long as there's no consequence, no tangible consequence for action against women in these countries it's going to continue. >> but even if there is, even if all the four guys are executed -- >> it's cultural, generation cultural issue and i don't know how we are able -- we're going to make a dent in this. we can try. we need to. this is awful. what happened to this brave young woman in pakista-- right? -- you know, my boss is a
huge proponent of human rights and when he saw the story he was outraged about it and said, what do we do to stop this? even the attitude of the one child policy in be china, which is a huge global partner in a lot of things, they control a lot of economic globally, we haven't been exactly critical of them enough about that policy. they kill females because they want boys. this is the attitude. >> because you said something very important, you said, you know, people are leery will abot hearing from us. the key to this is not to hear from us. the key is to empower women and girls in these associates to begin to -- societies to speak about these custom. >> and now what the u.n. is doing is bringing teachers where the child brides in for training. will the teachers have the power
to tell the parents who do this mainly for economic reasons, they're all horribly poor and children are a commodity, girls and boys. will the teachers be able to go to the parents and say stop selling your kids into marriage? >> you know, it starts small and much of it depends on education because th one thing that we knw is that girls who are educated are much less likely to be child brides, they're much more likely to stand up, to convince their parents that as educated girls, that they will be more valuable to their family than as an exchange essentially a child bride. >> the world malala was living in, i watched an online documentary about her, and they have nothing. their houses have bullet holes all over the place. they go to sleep at night. she and her pierre -- her father is fabulous. houseled he fell magically in love with her as soon as she was born, and he wants her to become a politicia politics or wanted o become a politician, but these
are people staying in the swat valley. by our standards it would be considered unlivable. we don't have enough money to go in there and educate everyone. >> this is why i think it's so important that we put these issues in context, and i think conservatives and liberals can absolutely agree on this child marriage issue and trying to change those issues for young women, the experience for young women and be it's an issue of their reproductive health. answering your question, one of the rules of law i think has got to be a first priority for us all, and then within that as we seek for women's rights, they're human rights, we have got to stop exaggerating, as the u.n. system has done for so much, abortion as the leading thing that is being fought for for women. we need -- if we want to help their reproductive health, we need to be not only calling for marriage at a later age but making sure that their sexual end engagement happens in a
place that is security and -- >> that's such a red herring. these people can't afford -- you know, look, this -- you mentioned the economic imperative. it's there. but it's worse than that because it's now become cultural as well, so that even if you are well off, you are supposed to choose the bride for -- or to choose the groom for -- because that assures that for the rest of her life she will be taken care of. i think this is very, very difficult, but i am sure who the messengers must be. >> behind the headlines, wage theft. it's a little known problem affecting vulnerable women across the country which is costing workers millions of dollars. i spoke to labor secretary hilda salihse to learn more about this hidden problem. >> wage theft is when, say you have an unscrupulous business that is not paying someone
minimum wage or overtime or misclassifies workers, and that happens -- the tendency is very high for vulnerable communities and especially women in low wage service sector jobs, agriculture, hotel, restaurant industry. >> >> the labor department has a wage and hour division to investigate allegations of wage theft. the department recovered hundreds of millions of dollars since 2009 for more than 800,000 workers. >> what industry would you say the wang theft is most prevalent in or which couple of industries? >> i would say hotel, restaurant, garment, obviously. we're finding even in healthcare, in home healthcare, and also some of the traditional, you know, farm labor areas, i would say that house keeping also. you can see where the trends are where you see vulnerable populations that tend to be
segregated in that particular workforce, and in many instances they tend to be women. >> and what do you do? are you filing cases against these employers and getting the money back? >> yes, and we're sending out investigators, and we've been able to ramp up, i think, our units when are we have brought in more investigators to do that kind of work, and i think it's changed, it's changed the level of support that had not been made available to these vulnerable workers, so i feel very good about that. >> how many people have you helped? how prevalent is this? >> i would say we've gotten millions back. millions for workers. and it's a statement actually to tell the employer, look, you have to abide by certain rules here no matter who you are, and every person who works and has an employer-employee relationship discovers to be paid minimum wage and overtime exalt other protections that this federal government provides for them. >> but some employers are still taking advantage, and in the case of home health workers
there are concerns about abuse continng a the baby boomer population ages. solis says the solution is education so people don't get stuck in dead end jobs. >> one of the things i know we're doing is looking at trying to provide a career path, so i know that there's a great interest to see that individuals in that industry are able to get certified so that they can meet certain qualifications and there's actually a career ladder for that, so we're very supportive of that. we've actually funded different grangrants that work with the industry as well as community-based groups and schools to try to that to maket we can get women, because it's predominantly women, to get to thaintothose careers so they caa certificate and they can go beyond and achieve a stepping stone so that they're not just stuck in a rut at a particular wage but they actually can look at increasing their wages and hopefully maybe even running
their own particular business. >> jennifer marshall, we were just talking about education being the key to ending child brides. and here we have it in our own country, companies not paying workers, predominantly feel male, what they're owed under the law. >> first go back to rule of law and we need to make sure that's enforced. wage theft is illegal, and we should call it out just as we do any theft. >> does that surprise you, that it's going on, that it's this big a deal? >> well, it is a pretty rare problem still, and they're finding out because the labor department is scouting it out. there's a whole division, the wage and hour division that the labor department funded at 2 million-dollar that is tasked with enforcing this law. they seem by your report to be doing a pretty good job of exactly that. i think that's what we want to do. we don't want to confine any field to say that's going to be written off and we're not going to be able to enforce the law there.
we absolutely should enforce the law there as well as upward mobility for everybody, make sure there's education. >> that is a very important point. remember, these are not workers who even know they're being shortchanged. and the only way to get at it is an affirmative approach by the government itself, the investigators that you speak of because, hey, this stuff is turned into the government, the i.r.s., and if you go in there you can look at it and find it out. it's look the leadbetter case. she didn't even know that she had been discriminated against until she was ready to leave. these bem will never know unless the labor department takes the initiative and goes after the culprits. >> i also think there's a common denominator here with the areas in which they identified most of this, housekeeping, the restaurants, hotels, i think they said clothing shops, things like that. what's common? high illegal immigration.
so this is another incentive for us to get that under control so people -- that's one of the human consequences of illegal immigration debate because people come over here and they get taken advantage of because they don't know their rights, they don't necessarily have rights because their illegal and that doesn't help them, agriculture. that's another reason why we need to get the illegal immigration question uncontrol because i bet you there's a high instance here. >> temporary workers. >> i imagine there's some connection there as well, but it goes beyond that. there are even areas where we think workers have protection, where even the workers think they have protection that they don't actually. right? >> such as. >> right here in maryland, for example, a restaurant worker even if you have a shift that's nine hours, ten hours, you have no right to a break, you have no right to eat. you don't have the right to take five minutes to wolf down a granola bar that you brought with you literally no right to any break.
if you're a retail work, you have a right to a 15 minute break but a urn restaurant worker web even if your shift is over eight hours you have no right the a break at all in some restaurants. chang's right here in rockville they have cameras on employees to make sure they don't stop and eat anything. >> so you're saying -- you're calling for more law. >> there's no law against that. >> -- more legislation to protect workers like that. >> it's shocking. >> i think, coming back to education, it would be very good fo us to try to upgrade education, financial will it liy education in schools and for states to concentrate on that. that's going to go a long way toward young people understanding their paychecks, how much the government is taking out for various taxes. that creates better voters to know how to make -- if the government is this big and they're taking this much, how can i help sort out the priorities in terms of what the government should do, and be able to understand as well the recourse where there is, when
they do sense they might to be victim of abuse in the workplace. that's appropriate in this case i think wage theft is one of those things we can count is being pretty well covered by the department of labor. >> would you like to see new legislation? >> i would because there are whole sets of workers who are not covered. we cover almost every worker, but there are about four or five categories of workers, all of them are mostly women and all of them are bottom of the economic pile. >> all right. that's it for this edition of to the con carrie. please follow me on twitte twitter@bonnie erbe and a"to the contrar and check out our website pbs.org/ttc, where the discussion continues. whether you agree or think, "to the contrary," please join us next time.